With drug importation champion Senator Byron Dorgan’s departure from the Senate, advocates for lower drug prices were concerned that no one would step up to the plate. Raising the issue from the dead, in an interview yesterday with IowaPolitics.com, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who supported the Dorgan bill, has boldly picked up the torch unambiguously voicing his continuing support of the legislation to allow lower priced drug imports.
Senator Grassley’s frames the issue as follows:
“Giving American consumers access to imported prescription drugs would force pharmaceutical companies to re-evaluate this unfair pricing strategy and drive U.S. prices down. It’s a free-trade issue. American consumers are able to buy almost every other product available from other countries. The same should be true for prescription drugs.” (more…)
Tagged with: Dorgan, Drug Importation, generic drugs, Heath Care Act, IowaPolitics.com, lower prices, Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2009, personal drug importation, pharmaceutical companies, Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, prescriptions, Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Herb Kohl, United States
We often report about policies affecting access to safe and affordable medication through personal drug importation, and advocate for laws that help American patients – not corporate profits. Like safe personal drug importation, faster access to generic drugs right here at home would make prescription drugs more affordable for uninsured and under-insured Americans. Unfortunately, last month the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made a decision that adversely affects consumers but benefits pharmaceutical manufactures of both brand and generic drugs. The court decided to decline a review of the “pay-to-delay” ruling of Arkansas Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund v. Bayer AG means that, once again, pharmaceutical profits are protected at the expense of greater consumer access to affordable medication.
The decision declares that Bayer, the manufacturer of Cipro, an anti-infection drug, is lawful in paying Barr Laboratories, a large generic drug manufacturing company, $400 million to not challenge Bayer’s patent, which protects the high price now charged for Cipro. When generic drug manufacturers successfully challenge the validity of a patent, they are able to more quickly manufacture and sell low-cost versions of the drugs. Settlements that prevent such patent challenges cost consumers $3.5 billion a year, according to Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.
The 2nd Court’s decision was based on that same court’s earlier ruling of In re Tamoxifen Citrate Antitrust Litigation, 466, F. 3d 187 (2006), which found pay-offs to generic drug companies do not violate anti-trust law. There have been 53 similar pharmaceutical patent settlements, resulting in a variety of drugs with prices out of reach for many American patients.
Such rulings indicate that American patients can only win if the issue is decided differently by the Supreme Court or, and more likely, Congress changes the law.
Senator Herb Kohl is one congressman looking to make this happen. Senator Kohl introduced the Preserve Access to Affordable Generic Drugs Act (S. 369), legislation, which is still pending, to combat the practice of pay-off agreements between pharmaceutical companies and reduce the number of pay-for-delay settlements that keep generic drugs off the market. This legislation would be a big step in protecting consumer’s interests and health costs, and we hope for its success.
Tagged with: affordable prescriptions, Barr Laboritories, Bayer, brand name drugs, Cipro, Drug Prices, generics, health, pay-to-delay, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceuticals, phrma, Senator Herb Kohl, Tamoxifen, United States